What is a Life Worth – Part 2 ?
I wrote a blog post about “What Life Is a Life Worth?” some time back.
I was watching a program on TV this weekend about the Deepwater Horizon oil Spill aka. Gulf of Mexico oil spill/BP oil spill. The reporter was interviewing people about the impact the incident had on their lives, the compensation they were being paid by BP through the fund that was setup. BP has suffered probably it’s worst losses in a quarter because of this and probably is paying up the largest amount of compensation ever paid in the history. In this case I think the punishment fits the crime, this incident being the largest oil spill ever. We have all been given vivid details of the magnitude of disaster in terms of no. of deaths, amount of oil spill, lives (human and others) impacted and also the compensation that is being spent in cleaning up the mess and bring things back to normal.
This incident reminded me of another incident that took place in India when I was a kid. It’s dubbed “Bhopal Tragedy“. An excerpt from Wikipedia below:
The Bhopal disaster (also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy) is the world’s worst industrial catastrophe. It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. A leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of several thousands of people. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Other government agencies estimate 15,000 deaths. Others estimate that 3,000 died within weeks and that another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). Indian Government controlled banks and the Indian public held 49.1 percent ownership share. In 1994, the Supreme Court of India allowed UCC to sell its 50.9 percent share. The Bhopal plant was sold to McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. UCC was purchased by Dow Chemical Company in 2001.
Civil and criminal cases are pending in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India, involving UCC, UCIL employees, and Warren Anderson, UCC CEO at the time of the disaster. In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by law. An eighth former employee was also convicted but died before judgment was passed.
If you stop and think, what life is worth by comparing the crimes (I think that’s what we should call them given that in both cases a lot of regulations and safety rules have been breached) and the punishment delivered to people and/or corporations, despite taking into effect factors like inflation etc., it sounds so ridiculous the way the Bhopal Tragedy was investigated, tried and perpetrators punished.
So I ask the question again.
What is a Life Worth?
How does it change with time, geography, governments, political considerations?
It varies from nothing to invaluable.
That could probably explain why there is migration of people from one geography to another.
I would like to think people would want to live their lives with out being messed with and if indeed some one is harmed, they want their life to be treated invaluable and to be compensated like wise in terms of punishment to the perpetrators and compensation to their loved ones.